Can Learning English Help Refugees to Integrate?
Bishop John Arnold of Salford Diocese believes that learning the language of the new community refugees have found themselves is key to their integration.
“I want you to be easily accepted and to find work, so I would encourage you to learn English – here we are terrible with language, so to learn our language will really help you,” Bishop John tells refugees and people seeking asylum he met at Revive Drop-in service at the Spiritan Centre, Salford.
He urged them to “Always hold on to hope. Life has been difficult and you’re looking for a better life with us. I wish my country was a little bit more welcoming, but I say you are welcome here.”
The service users present were mostly from Arabic and Farsi speaking countries. A volunteer Interpreter, Alaeddin Nawat Musa, translated the Bishop’s words into Arabic.
The Bishop’s encouragement to learn the language follows on research studies which concluded that, “A common language is life lubricant, glue to friendship, a means to getting on,” to unlocking jobs, earnings and the complex health, education and immigration system in the Uk. It may also allow parents to play an active role in their children’s schooling.
Bishop John, who visited Revive on the 17th February 2016, met with the staff and volunteers at Revive’s drop-in centre in Salford. He then visited the Revive office at Beswick, Manchester.
Anna Turner, the Social Work Co-ordinator at Revive, told Bishop John about the daily reality of running the service, as well as some of the issues and challenges it faces.
“Accommodation is a real problem, especially with Housing Benefit stopping for those aged under 23 years,” she explained.
“Refugees and asylum seekers find it hard to integrate here,” she went on. “There is a real culture shock when educated solicitors and doctors are placed in night shelters with people addicted to drugs or alcohol.”
Bishop John was struck by the variety of nationalities and people from different religious backgrounds working together to help those most in need.
He observed that: “This is a truly cosmopolitan response to a cosmopolitan problem – this is what’s so great about Manchester. What you’re doing here is so important for the integration and empowerment of refugees. This is how I see the Church being missionary – it’s very impressive.”
— Diocese of Salford (@SalfordDiocese) February 17, 2016
Bishop John Arnold, Salford Diocese.
View the Photostream of his visit on Flickr